Tsunami disaster disrupts donations to area charities, county's food bank
|Dondra Nance stands by the near empty shelves that line the warehouse at the Carbon County food bank. Large disasters in other parts of the country and around the world often draw off giving to local charities and the tsunami disaster in Asia has been no different.|
The Tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas appears to be one of the worst natural disaster to occur during the last decade.
In the last 120 years, China has had four major natural disasters occur within its boundaries.
In 1976, China experienced an earthquake that killed 255,000 people. In the late 1930s, more than one million Chinese were killed in floods. In 1887, 900,000 died when the Yellow River broke through its banks and drowned entire villages. The worst earthquake ever recorded in history occurred in China and claimed the lives of 2,000,000 people.
Asia, as a whole, also gets hit hard, particularly places like Bangladesh. In 1970 and 1991, cyclone induced flooding killed 300,000 and 130,000 people respectively in the country.
The world responds to major disasters by supplying aid and help in the form of food, clothing, shelter and money. But when an event happens, the local needs in other parts of the world, even Carbon County, are neglected because of the propensity of the public to concentrate on major disasters.
For instance, American charities had little difficulty coming up with money for the survivors and relatives of the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the United States for more than a year following the disaster.
But at locations across the country, giving to local agencies for other reasons virtually stopped. Some charities had to cut programs and some organizations failed. In some cases, people went homeless and hungry.
Since the day after Christmas when the 30 foot waves belted areas around the Indian Ocean, donations for local and state charities has nearly come to halt.
A good example is the Carbon County Food Bank. The facility serves hundreds of low income and no income families in the county. But a visit to the building last Friday showed bare shelves, where once plentiful stocks existed.
"It's the worst I have ever seen it," pointed out Dondra Nance, director of the county pantry. "We have a lot of USDA food in the middle of the warehouse. But by law, we can only give families one box of that food, regardless of the family size."
"The things we can give them for their real needs - the things donated to us by residents - are almost gone," added the county food bank director
One shelf at the county food pantry was completely filled with containers of peanut butter.
The other shelves at the local pantry contained only a sporadic can of beans or tomato soup.
"We have plenty of peanut butter, but that's about it," said Nance. "It was already slow, more than usual before Christmas. But now it has died completely. We are going to be turning families away if things don't change fast."
The Boy Scouts of America will conduct the organization's annual food drive next month, explained Nance. But because of the slowing, donations to the BSA drive will fill the shelves for a short time only. Then summer will arrive before the letter carriers have a food drive.
The USDA food stored in the warehouse consists primarily of dried beans, rice and powdered milk. There seems to be plenty of the items in the warehouse. But the pantry lacks the food to meet local needs regardless of the amount that is in stock.
"It doesn't matter whether they have two kids or eight, I can legally only give out the same to each family unit," she says. "We are going to have a lot of hungry people around here real soon if things don't change."
Nance understands the importance of the tsunami relief efforts. But she asks residents to also remember local needs.
Each month the Carbon County food bank supplies food to hundreds of families in the area. For some low income or fixed income families it is staple. For those in transition between jobs or temporary illnesses it is a lifesaver.
While individual residents can help, other local groups do provide some things for the food bank. United Way, for instance, supplies a lot of paper products and personal products that the food bank distributes.
"We try to provide some of what they need," says Pam Juliano, director of United Way in Carbon County. "Because of this emergency at the food bank we have also been contacting other groups to help. We have already talked with some Eagle Scout groups in the northern part of the state as well as the Ambassadors Club at CEU."
Carbon Country residents are urged to help the food bank by dropping off donations at 75 East 400 South in Price. All kinds of non-perishable food items are readily accepted. In shortest supply seems to be things like canned vegetables, soups and other canned items.